Photography

Your best photos of 2018

The best images this year from National Geographic’s photo community—curated from thousands of photographers and over a million photographsMonday, December 31, 2018

By Kristen McNicholas
“Up close and personal with Gambit, a 12ft long American Crocodile in Banco Chinchorro, Mexico. She was close enough to me, that at times I could hear her pointy teeth clacking against the glass of my camera housing's dome port,” writes Your Shot photographer Santiago Zurbia Flores Otero. “She had come up for air and just slowly walked to me, after a few seconds in the surface, she went back to the bottom to continue her stalking, waiting game.”

For almost 13 years, you have been sharing your photos with the Your Shot community. Our mission is to tell stories collaboratively with our photographers while harbouring an educational and welcoming community for you to improve your photography. These 70 selections were curated from over 1.2 million photo uploads in 2018 from photographers around the world who are just like you. Our photographers always display an impressive variety of photographic styles and it all starts with picking up the camera closest to them. So, what are you waiting for? You can make these images, too. We’ll see you in 2019.

“My family was always crazy, so the way we play is crazy too,” writes Your Shot photographer Marta Szulc. “Shaving cream fight? Why not?”
“The Grand Tetons in Wyoming are not currently home for me, but it sure feels like it when I'm here. If I were to sum up this place in one word, I would say inspiring,” writes Your Shot photographer Tommy Schuch. “This photo was taken in January 2018 on Jackson Lake in the Grand Tetons of Wyoming. The birds were coming in to drink water from our fishing holes we had cut into the ice.”
“It seemed like a painting: a tiger in a pool under the canopy of dense foliage, an almost dreamy look on his face. The reflection of the leaves in the water added to the magic of the scene,” writes Your Shot photographer Pallavi L. “Having been lucky to see plenty of tigers, I used to think still shots wouldn't interest me much, it would be mundane, boring even. Yet stumbling upon this scene had me jump up in my seat with an unnatural excitement and it still remains my fondest memory of the trip. The wild just does not cease to amaze!”
“Probably one of my favourite spots to freedive,” writes Your Shot photographer Brandon Verdura. “This beautiful spring in Florida where the tannin from the river flows over crystal clear water from a spring. It creates these mind-blowing colours underwater.”
“This picture was made in our kitchen at the moment when the light fell into it, illuminating the subject of the photograph,” writes Your Shot photographer Kamila J. Gruss, who submitted this image to the Pop of Colour assignment. “My kids love to sneak and steal sweets when they think I'm not watching. I love these small hands and the red colour of the peach.”
Your Shot photographer Milou Krietemeijer-Dirks describes this series as a search for identity and roots. The subject of the photo is her daughter and this image is part of a collaboration together.
Your Shot photographer Simona Buratti used a drone to capture this aerial view of the highlands of Iceland during the summer. In this photograph we are shown the vast changing landscape, thanks to the Icelandic rivers.
Your Shot photographer Erinn S. found the perfect spot at sunset to capture this image of the Tidal Basin, located in Washington, DC. In the background the Jefferson Memorial is struck with the last reaches of sunlight, while branches of cherry blossom trees reach out towards the water.
“I took this photo at a Mitama Festival held at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo,” writes Your Shot photographer Takashi Furo. “More than 30,000 lanterns in this background are decorated, each contains a wish for peace. This festival has been held annually for more than 70 years.”
“The whole idea behind this series is to deconstruct the concept of summer and Menorca, an island in the Balearic archipelago,” writes Your Shot photographer Jorge Delgado-Ureña. “One way to synthesize an idea is by creating images with very simple but strong compositions and one or two colours — if they are complimentary colours, even better! If you think about Menorca you think of blue and white. In this photograph I included orange to complement and add 'punch' to the image.”
“During a recent trip to Turkey,” writes Your Shot photographer Amanda Jane Dalby. “[It was] so hot, the only place to be was in the pool and out of the sun.”
Your Shot photographer Yukimasa Takagi photographed this scene in early May 2018.
“I wrote this poem in my sleep,” writes Your Shot photographer April Nocifora. “You didn’t know I was there, I’d been there a while. My name is Cancer, I hid deep inside spreading like a wildflower, a thorn in your side. I sit and wait as you douse me with pain. The fight is on, battle after battle, who will win the answer remains. I know who will win and it will be ME!”
Your Shot photographer Jassen Todorox captured this aerial view in the middle of the California Mojave Desert where thousands of recalled Volkswagen and Audi models from 2009-2015 sit as a result from the 2015 V W emissions scandal. This image was also recognised as the Grand Prize winner of the 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest.
“I have mixed emotions about this photograph,” writes Your Shot photographer Joseph Anthony. “[It was] a surreal moment. The owner of the house I had been staying in for three weeks came back briefly during a lull in the eruption only to see the entire scene erupt once more. He watched as the lava consumed part of his property [while] sitting in a garden chair to watch in numb resignation. As a full moon began to rise he took out his phone to photograph it. The house eventually burned down due to a brush fire but they returned by helicopter to rebuild.”
“Julie is a wildlife caregiver in Melbourne and has spent four years fostering grey-headed flying foxes (also known as fruit bats), orphaned after their mums were killed by powerlines or caught in backyard fruit tree netting and barbed wire,” writes Your Shot photographer Doug Gimesy. “She bottle-feeds them six times a day, moisturises their wings with baby lotion and keeps them stimulated with kids’ toys. In the wild, the mother bats would lick them clean, but she draws the line at that.”
Your Shot photographer Agnieszka Maruszczyk captured this moment of an inflatable shark flying overhead as swimmers enjoy a day at the lake. “This is part of a series I am working on entitled BOYHOOD,” writes Maruszczyk.
Your Shot photographer Julia Wimmerlin's spynx cat "hunts" a fish.
Your Shot photographer Chanel French made this radiant portrait on a local nature trail in October 2018.
“The most beautiful days in Lapland, Finland are those when you can't feel your fingers!” writes Your Shot photographer Laura Vilne.Lapland is Finland’s northernmost region, a sparsely populated area bordering Sweden, Norway, Russia and the Baltic Sea.
“It was an autumn afternoon and I had a few hours, so I decided to find that little lake that I saw some years ago with my grandfather. I took my camera, the car keys, a backpack,” writes Your Shot photographer Ivelise Caruso. “Once I found it, waiting for me there was a dragonfly flying around the pond. In silence, surrounded by the magical atmosphere of high altitude clouds, I followed the dragonfly.”
Your Shot photographer Aya Okawa captured this image of a long exposure of the San Francisco city skyline emerging from the fog at sunrise.
“The largest celebration of Dia de los Muertos (outside of Mexico) takes place in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery,” writes Your Shot photographer Melissa Cormican. “Normally cemeteries are quiet places, yet on this special day the atmosphere erupts with colour, music, and art. Altars are created and festival goers paint their faces with calaveras make-up in order to keep the spirits of their deceased loved ones and ancestors alive. I set out to create a series of photographs to showcase these amazing tributes, in appreciation of this sacred event.”
“Ginger Belle wears a speculum and is going to get her teeth floated by an equine vet at Underhill Stables,” writes Your Shot photographer Jennifer MacNeill. “Horse's teeth are continuously growing and need to be filed flat or floated regularly to take off sharp points so they can chew their food properly. Often a thin horse has sharp teeth in the back of their mouth that prevent them from chewing their food and getting all the nutrition out of it.”
“Mike Boyd walks this newly established 260 metre highline in Index, Washington,” writes Your Shot photographer Katrin Bell. “This line is currently the longest highline in the state of WA. Established early September 2018, we began this day by hiking up to the line just before dawn. The location provided for spectacular views along with the gorgeous light.”
“This burrowing owl is enjoying a sprayer during the hot Summer days in the Netherlands,” writes Your Shot photographer Marta Demarteau. “Because of the Sun, a rainbow appears. This bird is staying at a nature park in Diessen, where it can run, dig, fly and rest free in the area.”
"A close up look at mop-up: spray, mix, feel, repeat. The most efficient use of water when digging heat out of the ground is a combined spraying and stirring action,” writes Your Shot photographer Eli Espinoza Goodman. “The fire burns roots in the ground, like little (and not so little) hidden tunnels of embers and trapped heat winding their way below. We follow them with tools and sensory input to smother and disperse heat until it no longer can feasibly spread or reignite. Basically, we like making mud, lots of it, and playing in it.”
Your Shot photographer Ian Webb captured a tennis player serving the ball during the China Open.
Your Shot photographer Cynthia Cortes made this abstracted underwater portrait while playing in the pool.
“When I was young, I remember seeing a photo of the Grand Prismatic Spring in an issue of National Geographic Magazine,” writes Your Shot photographer Helder Silva. “I was really dazzled and impressed by the bright colours, the texture, the weirdness of it all. It seemed like something that would be on a super cool and crazy alien planet. For my birthday weekend, I took a trip to Yellowstone, and I flew above the Grand Prismatic to photograph it and recreate this amazing image from my childhood memories.”
Your Shot photographer Diana Cervantes photographed Charles Dugan, 18, as he prays before the Westernaires enter an arena for the final performance at the Sandoval County Fair in Cuba, New Mexico. The Westernaires is a non-profit organisation centred around horsemanship and character development in young people.
“A starry night at Yolo County, California. This tree is the only one left in the farm, and rarely anybody ever visit this farm. For me, it can't be better to stay there for a couple hours without any electronics,” writes Your Shot photographer Jiawei L. “I enjoy every second I spend under this stunning night sky that many people haven't seen before, and I'd love to share my night photos and motivate people to go outside and look up the stars. This spot became one of the most often visited places I've ever been during my college years.”
“This photograph was captured during my first visit to the United States,” writes Your Shot photographer Huang Chao. “I happened to see an ordinary high school football team in training, so I took some pictures, and it was the first time I saw a football team and felt the strength of the high school students through their fierce competition.”
Your Shot photographer Francesca Torracchi went with a vertical composition here as she captured this portrait of a young girl and her dog.
“Portraits of motion and connection and sunshine,” writes Your Shot photographer Candy K. This image is not even close to Katie's personal story. I hope she keeps finding the light and strength in each of these precious days.”
“This image is from a larger documentary series on a local drag queen group,” writes Your Shot photographer Pippa Scott. “As kids we dress up and pretend play. Drag queens not only play by transforming themselves in to a character that they invent but also have a ton of fun in front of mirrors. The mirror is a form of play to them as they complete their transformations and slowly immerse themselves in to their characters.”
“After poking around the coast line of Hawaii, I stumbled upon this hidden cave with sea turtles venturing out of the water,” writes Your Shot photographer Leighton Lum. “It was quite amazing hanging out all afternoon with these living dinosaurs.”
“As the last afternoon sun was fading and the dust from a day of motion at the busy Himba village settled, I was able to snap out some shots of the beautiful young girl,” writes Your Shot photographer Rebecca Ney.
“Camping has easily become one of my favourite pastimes. There’s something so comforting knowing you become almost nonexistent within the mountains as all communication with the real world is lost,” writes Your Shot photographer Shelby Clowers. “My oldest son gazed upon the size of our new tent as we unpacked. We rode our bikes. We played in the creek. And later we cosied up and fell asleep to the sound of the rushing water beside us and the nightlife that wondered.”
"Here is a very rare view and a heartwarming composition of the clouds hugging the heavy fog below," writes Your Shot Photographer Khalid Al Hammadi. While photographing in Abu Dhabi, Hammadi captured this image of his friend looking out towards the UAW Towers in the distance. "I chose to capture my friend in this place, to reflect the Emirati’s contemplations and visions. Presenting the culture in the past, the present and the future of Abu Dhabi in one frame and being witnessed by the entire world."
A dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong promotes itself using prominent neon signage. This bustling metropolis became world-famous for the seemingly endless neon lights that hung above every street. But recently, with many signs being replaced by more efficient LED lights, some Hongkongers are working to preserve this city’s neon heritage.
“Water that is flowing down from the mountain towards the sea makes amazing patterns on the red soil,” writes Your Shot photographer Prasad Ambati. “When the light is right, they look so amazing. This image was taken from a bridge in Xiapu County, near a fishing village along the East China Sea coast.”
“Early risers are awarded with great energy and opportunity,” writes Your Shot photographer Neelima Azad. “I was supposed to sleep like a log after travelling a great distance to this amazing resort in the desert and I decided to wake up early just so I could roam around and explore. I was in for a treat as the desert was covered in fog and the lake close by had swans and this swan right here followed me wherever I moved. I set up my tripod and put it on timer and ran and posed so I could forever cherish this morning!”
“This photo was taken during my summer photography trip around countryside in Russia,” writes Your Shot photographer Dmitry Ersler. “This picture is a part of the series called Russia at Dusk dedicated to my beloved mum and dad.”
“This image was captured on the Greek island of Samos,” writes Your Shot photographer Feray Umut. “Here we see some octopuses hanging on a rope to dry in the sun. Octopus has been a popular dish in Greece for thousands of years and many fish restaurants in the country have been the item as a staple on their menu.”
“'I’m not here because I fell down in life, I’m here because I got up,' says Claressa Shields, a 2x Olympian and a world boxing champion," writes Your Shot photographer Terrell Groggins. "Shields suffered a second round knockdown by the boxer Hanna Gabriels. It was the first time Claressa hit the canvas in her career. Claressa Shields won this match vs Hanna Gabriels by unanimous decison. June 22nd was a historic night for women's boxing."
Your Shot photographer Ivan Kutasov captured this moment of a sailing adventure from Canada to Greenland.
“Lions have been known to climb trees for several reasons,” writes Your Shot photographer David Chen. “Those reasons involve avoiding attacks from larger animals such as buffalo or elephants, climbing for a better vantage point for identifying potential targets and to avoid biting insects.”
“What worlds exist inside the human head and, when we put them together, what limits are there to the potential accomplishments of our species?” writes Your Shot photographer Reed Galin. “A CT scan doesn't show thoughts and promises, though. It doesn't show love and fear and wisdom or anger. It shows tissue and connections. What this technician reads in the images- unknowable abstractions to a layperson- may reveal a future of tragedy or triumph. What he sees this moment may very well change someone's life. And, he does this every day.”
“Capturing images of wild creatures at a very short distance is always an interest to me,” writes Your Shot photographer Shan W. “Because I like to see their expressions, make eye contact with them, and try to have a better understanding of the wildlife.”
Your Shot photographer Reiko Takahashi captured this moment of a male pygmy seahorse giving birth. For the pygmy seahorse the females pass the eggs to the males who keep the eggs secured in a pouch on their trunk as they wait for the young seahorses to hatch.
"Hundreds of Buddhist pray in the night of flower garlands and coloured lanterns on the birthday of the Buddha,” writes Your Shot photographer Tran Tuan Viet. “It’s a respectful ritual to pray for peace and health of mankind in Dien Quang pagoda, Bac Ninh province, of Northern Vietnam. At the ritual, virgin girls will be selected to stand in the first row. It starts when the sun goes down over the horizon and last for three hours.”
"Leida and Laëlle, 9, are twin sisters and are living in Brazil recently, they came as refugees from Haiti,” writes Your Shot photographer Tati Itat. “They say that living here is like living in paradise, very different from the reality of their country of origin. They are extremely connected, while the parents are working, they take care of each other. They dream and make plans together to become models and teachers as a way to obtain money to bring their relatives that are still in Haiti. They are very creative, faithful and lovely children.”
“I started a new series of inside instruments,” writes Your Shot photographer Adrian Borda. “This is a very old French cello made in Napoleonic times. I did it with a mirrorless camera and a smartphone as a wireless remote, using artificial light and long exposures, around 30 seconds. For sure the instrument had quite a life, but only it's scars remember its past now.”
“Michigan weather during the spring can give exciting photo opportunities,” writes Your Shot photographer Levi Langerak. “I saw the wave prediction for St Joseph showed large waves that afternoon. After finding the position I wanted I put my 150-600mm Tamron on my tripod that was dug into the sand and weighted it down with my backpack to combat the fierce winds that were shaking my camera. I enjoy going to this lighthouse for wave pictures due to the main lighthouse is on the north side which I find gets larger waves.”
“The colourful streets of Bo Kaap in Cape Town weren't always this way,” writes Your Shot photographer Stephanie Miller. “The facades were once mandated to be a drab, uniform colour during Apartheid. After Apartheid ended, the residents painted their homes every colour of the rainbow to celebrate their freedom and Eid (a Muslim festival). Visiting Bo Kaap during the intense mid-day sunlight, the houses were so brightly coloured it was almost blinding!”
“During a misty morning adventure in New South Wales, Australia we came across this dark road filled with autumn leaves on the side of the road,” writes Your Shot photographer Matt Horspool. “My friend had a clear umbrella and I spontaneously thought it would be a great idea to shoot something like this. It took a few goes but this was the final image.”
“This photograph shows a young child practicing for youth spring turkey season which opened the following weekend,” writes Your Shot photographer Terra Fondriest. “Youth turkey is for ages 6-15 and marks the opening of spring turkey season. His father pictured in the background has always been an avid hunter, so he is bringing up his son the same way. Besides hunting for turkey and deer meat, they also raise meat pigs and chickens. They live just down the road from us in the Ozarks of Arkansas.”
“It isn't always obvious - your identity as a mother. It's clouded by expectations, demands and sleep deprivation,” writes Your Shot photographer Laura Wood. “For the most part, you live out your day and your duties behind doors with only children looking on who don't fully understand the sacrifices you make. 7pm rolls around and you breathe a big breath as your children go to sleep, you pour a glass of wine and your identity changes again. Always a mother, but sometimes more than others.”
A boy shoots some hoops with his father at an outdoor court in Sacaramento, California. "In just a couple of months, his interest in basketball grew from a 2 to a 20," said Your Shot photographer Lisa Coker. "He's always excited to show off his moves as he attempts to emulate the greats."
“I love bright lights, but I prefer being in the shadows; I love flower gardens but in winter I enjoy nature in a vase; I am shy in the beginning but can open up easily in warm and nurturing environment,” writes Your Shot photographer Toni Minchev. “I love blue tones, but if I have to choose a feminine color it would be ash pink; I love listening to alternative rock but my favorite composer is Antonio Vivaldi; I am inspired by bold colours but I live my life in the pastel palette.”
“The experience of observing an absurdly stunning twilight, turned into an unforgettable photographic experience when this tower of four giraffes walked into the frame,” writes Your Shot photographer Zhayynn James. This moment was captured in Ndutu, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania.
“Joan and Carl sit together inside of their home of 54 years,” writes Your Shot photographer Meg Brock. “The two were married in 1950 and together have built a beautiful family that includes sons, daughters-in-law, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. After 67 years of marriage the mutual love and respect they have for one another still shines brightly. Love in its newness is sweet. Love that flourishes through trials and time is inspirational. Knowing them and seeing their love has inspired many, including myself.”
“The five-storied pagoda of Arakurayama Sengen Park located in Fujiyoshida City, Yamanashi is a location that has become popular year by year for both foreign tourists and Japanese tourists.,” writes Your Shot photographer Takashi Nakazawa. “Because we can see the five-storied pagoda, Mt Fuji and cherry blossoms symbolising Japan at the same time. In particular, it gets very crowded when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. When you see this scene once, your visions of Mt. Fuji change forever.” This image was published on the June/July 2018 Traveler magazine cover as part of Your Shot's " Trip That Changed My Life" assignment.
“The last bodybuilding champion of the USSR and the former president of the Bodybuilding Federation Kirill Dubkov has drastically changed his career,” writes Your Shot photographer Anton Dotsenko. “Currently, Kirill is busy with breeding one of the rarest dog breeds - Alaskan Malamutes. Kirill says that this new pastime of his is not different from going to the gym to meet his own needs: it is the source of happiness and enjoyment. Breeding them in a natural environment makes them healthier and lets them live longer.”
“I assisted photographer Kathryn Mayo for six months while she created the "Selma Portrait Project,” writes Your Shot photographer Douglas Winter. “Ms. Mayo photographed a cross-section of Selma residents, capturing over 60 wet plate collodion portraits. One of the portraits she made was of the Rev. F.D. Reese, one of the "Courageous Eight". Meeting Rev. Reese and the many beautiful people of Selma was a life-changing experience for me. This "behind the scenes" image I made encapsulates the trip that changed my life.”
“An Afghan child interacts with Marine Cpl. J.W. Morris through a checkpoint barrier at forward operating base Musa Qal'ah, Helmand province, Afghanistan,” writes Your Shot photographer Alejandro Peña. “Though discouraged from interacting with the local children, many Marines ignored this rule. Morris was from Spokane, Washington, and had young children of his own. He would save the chocolate sweets from care packages to pass out to the local children. Needless to say he was very popular.”
“This was such a difficult moment for me to capture,” writes Your Shot photographer Ali Alshami. “I waited patiently for the vulture eye to come into the middle of the other vulture’s beak. It happened so fast, but I was able to slow the moment down and capture this photograph.”
Your Shot photographer Dana C. made this underwater image with a GoPro in February 2018. She writes, "This was my first experience shooting underwater and I'm totally hooked!"
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